These ingredients are the MVPs of the diet that contributes to mental well-being

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Good nutrition and mental well-being are interrelated concepts. I do not know what you think about that ad that said “eat a snickers because you act like a diva when you are hungry”, but I think there is a lot of truth in the meaning of this slogan. And obviously, it’s not just about snickers.

Our diet plays a very big role in how we feel, in how we experience stress, in the quality of our sleep as well as in our spiritual performance. And obviously this is not only due to the energy that food gives you, thus being the fuel for the normal functions of the body.

To understand how diet affects our mental well-being and health, it is enough to examine the action of neurotransmitters those that promote the feeling of happiness, reduce stress and help sleep. And of course how we can get them from food sources.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid can only be obtained through diet, either from plant or animal sources. It can improve its levels “hormone of happiness“, That is, her serotonin, which acts beneficially for our mood, as well as the “sleep hormone“, Of melatonin, which helps us sleep better.

Tryptophan rich foods: chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, spinach, tofu, pumpkin and sesame

Tip: In order for the body to convert tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin, it needs vitamins and minerals. That is why the consumption of a large and ‘colorful’ variety of vegetables and fruits is equally important.

Serotonin

Serotonin is especially important when we talk about mental well-being, mood and a feeling of satiety. Serotonin is normally produced in the brain and is known to promote a sense of happiness while reducing stress.

In order to increase the production of serotonin, it is important to consume foods rich in:

  • Vitamin C (eg citrus fruits, strawberry, mango, papaya, broccoli, sprouts and potatoes)
  • B-complex vitamins (eg cheese, eggs, liver, fatty fish – tuna, mackerel and salmon – and dark green vegetables such as cabbage and spinach)
  • Magnesium (eg avocados, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains)

Melatonin

Just as serotonin is renowned for its positive effect on mental well-being and mood, melatonin is the MVP in the matter of sleep. It is produced mainly during the night and plays an important role in the sleep-wake cycle.

Unlike serotonin, melatonin is found naturally in many foods.

Foods rich in melatonin: salmon, black and red rice, peppers, sour cherries, lentil sprouts and red beans

Taurine

Probably a little lesser known, taurine is an aminosulfonic acid, a molecule that, unlike amino acids, is not used to make proteins, but still has significant effects on the body. It is mainly found in the brain, retina, heart and blood cells.

In fact, taurine has been shown to be a potent activator of GABA receptors in the Central Nervous System, resulting in a potential effect on mood and calm levels.

Foods rich in taurine: turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, seaweed and eggs

GABA

GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts on the Central Nervous System (in other words in the brain) and by its action may promote a feeling of peace of mind and calm. Low GABA concentrations lead to high levels of stress, mood disorders or even epilepsy and chronic pain.

Although more research is needed to support the above claims, however, the first research that has been done shows that GABA can boost mood or have a calming or calming effect on the nervous system.

Foods rich in GABA: fruits, vegetables, tea and red wine

And something else…

Although they do not belong to the neurotransmitters, the following two vitamins may have a significant impact on mental health and mood (and obviously not only).

Vitamin D

Its role in the healthy functioning of the brain is vital. At the same time, increasing the intake of vitamin D through our diet is more necessary than ever, as we approach winter happily, where exposure to our natural source of vitamin D, namely sunlight, is limited.

Foods rich in vitamin D: fatty fish (especially sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring), red meat, liver and egg yolks

Tip: It is advisable to have regular check-ups of vitamin D levels, and possibly supplementation, regardless of eating habits. Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in the Mediterranean population, as contradictory as it sounds (given that the main source is the sun). At the same time, chronic deficiency is progressively contributing to the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Also note that age probably does not play a significant role in the development of disability, so it is best not to be complacent because you have not yet crossed the threshold of old age… A regular checkup is always a good idea!

B-complex vitamins

We talked about how they help produce serotonin, however the B vitamins themselves contribute to better mental health. Similarly, a deficiency of B vitamins could adversely affect memory function and cause cognitive impairment and dementia. At the same time, low levels of folic acid (vitamin B9) have been linked to depression.

Foods rich in B vitamins: milk, cheese, eggs, chicken, fish (mainly tuna, mackerel and salmon), shellfish (oysters and mussels), dark green vegetables (spinach and kale), oats and whole grains

Tip: For those of you who follow a vegetarian diet, taking B12 supplements is a must. Consult your dietitian or doctor so that you can include the appropriate supplement in your diet.

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These ingredients are the MVPs of the diet that contributes to mental well-being

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